Scepticism surrounds jobs benefit of wind farm plans

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COUNCILLORS are ‘right to be sceptical’ over the number of jobs that could be created for residents from the construction of the planned Rampion offshore wind farm.

A total of 1,000 new jobs created, and up to 700 local sub-contractors could be involved in the building of the controversial wind farm, proposed by E-ON.

The development would be located around 13 kilometres off the coast of Adur and Worthing.

But councillors at a meeting of the Adur and Worthing joint planning committee said they believed the jobs would be spread across a large area.

Eastbrook (Southwick and Fishersgate) ward councillor David Donaldson said: “The operations and maintenance base will be in Newhaven.

“We are told the development could create about 1,000 jobs, which seems to me rather fairy-like.”

The councillors were presented with a report, detailing the council’s views regarding the proposals.

It has been submitted to the Government, which will decide whether to grant permission.

The report states the council is ‘generally supportive’ of the development, but states a number of concerns which will need to be mitigated by E-ON.

Executive head of planning James Appleton said he anticipated only a proportion of the planned jobs created would go to locals.

He said: “I think it is right to be sceptical.

“The development will have spin-off benefits, but whether these jobs will be going to Adur and Worthing residents is another matter.

“They may be over quite a large area and I think that is why we are quite keen to get E-ON’s view about a developer charter.”

The report also highlighted a ‘missed opportunity’ from E-ON, in that it had not made provisions for a visitor centre.

A similar E-ON wind farm development, in Great Yarmouth, has seen 35,000 visitors annually.

But no proposals have currently been put forward for the latest development.

Councillors suggested Shoreham Port as an ideal location, citing it as potential mitigation for concerns that the port would be affected by the development.

The council’s report reads: “The councils would question why a similar facility has not been proposed as part of this development.

“This is a missed opportunity, which should be taken forward by E-ON as soon as possible.”

Development director at Shoreham Port Peter Davies added: “The idea of a visitor centre based at the port, proposed by Adur and Worthing councils, is welcomed.”

Some doubt about the centre was expressed by Adur cabinet member for regeneration Pat Beresford, who said: “I have been involved with the discussions, and while it makes sense to have a visitor centre, I would question whether people would make a special journey to tour it.”

“I am yet to be convinced either way about the wind farm development itself.”